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Metal-based self-assembled cages or helicates with central cavities can act as containers and allow the recognition of all kinds of analytes inside them. Our targets of choice are metal-based containers with electropositive cavities for anion recognition. Our research benefits from easy and straightforward prepared ligands which can be readily modified to address our needs.

Flowchart for the design process of metal-based containers beginning with computational modeling of the containers followed by the ligand synthesis and container assembly. All steps are connected via a feedback loop to solve bottlenecks. © David Van Craen

Simple computational modelling is performed prior to the actual synthesis to evaluate the feasibility of a desired container. For example, Spartan models allow us to evaluate possible issues which may arise during the metal-mediated self-assembly process before time is spent on synthesis. The ligand synthesis of ideal candidates usually involves a few but well known organic synthetic procedures followed by complex formation. If bottle-necks arise which cannot be solved straightforward, we usually go back to the drawing board and optimize the target ligand / container by using laboratory observations in a feedback loop fashion.

Target guests of choice are anions with a special focus on the recognition of biologically / environmentally relevant and chiral anions. We are also conducting research on containers with sufficient solubilizing groups to study anion recognition in a realistic aqueous environment to mimic body fluids.

Overview of research interests based on anion recognition with metal-assembled containers. © David Van Craen

We use common techniques like NMR, UV-Vis or fluorescence spectroscopy paired with methods like ITC or CPL spectroscopy to study binding processes of our containers with anions. Another key aspect of our research is to investigate the catalytic activity of selected host-guest complexes to perform enantioselective catalysis.

If you are interested in supramolecular research with anions and you are currently looking for a position to perform a PhD, master or bachelor thesis, please have a look here.

Location & approach

The campus of TU Dort­mund University is located close to interstate junction Dort­mund West, where the Sauerlandlinie A 45 (Frankfurt-Dort­mund) crosses the Ruhrschnellweg B 1 / A 40. The best interstate exit to take from A 45 is "Dort­mund-Eichlinghofen" (closer to Campus Süd), and from B 1 / A 40 "Dort­mund-Dorstfeld" (closer to Campus Nord). Signs for the uni­ver­si­ty are located at both exits. Also, there is a new exit before you pass over the B 1-bridge leading into Dort­mund.

To get from Campus Nord to Campus Süd by car, there is the connection via Vogelpothsweg/Baroper Straße. We recommend you leave your car on one of the parking lots at Campus Nord and use the H-Bahn (suspended monorail system), which conveniently connects the two campuses.

TU Dort­mund University has its own train station ("Dort­mund Uni­ver­si­tät"). From there, suburban trains (S-Bahn) leave for Dort­mund main station ("Dort­mund Hauptbahnhof") and Düsseldorf main station via the "Düsseldorf Airport Train Station" (take S-Bahn number 1, which leaves every 20 or 30 minutes). The uni­ver­si­ty is easily reached from Bochum, Essen, Mülheim an der Ruhr and Duisburg.

You can also take the bus or subway train from Dort­mund city to the uni­ver­si­ty: From Dort­mund main station, you can take any train bound for the Station "Stadtgarten", usually lines U41, U45, U 47 and U49. At "Stadtgarten" you switch trains and get on line U42 towards "Hombruch". Look out for the Station "An der Palmweide". From the bus stop just across the road, busses bound for TU Dort­mund University leave every ten minutes (445, 447 and 462). Another option is to take the subway routes U41, U45, U47 and U49 from Dort­mund main station to the stop "Dort­mund Kampstraße". From there, take U43 or U44 to the stop "Dort­mund Wittener Straße". Switch to bus line 447 and get off at "Dort­mund Uni­ver­si­tät S".

The H-Bahn is one of the hallmarks of TU Dort­mund University. There are two stations on Campus Nord. One ("Dort­mund Uni­ver­si­tät S") is directly located at the suburban train stop, which connects the uni­ver­si­ty directly with the city of Dort­mund and the rest of the Ruhr Area. Also from this station, there are connections to the "Technologiepark" and (via Campus Süd) Eichlinghofen. The other station is located at the dining hall at Campus Nord and offers a direct connection to Campus Süd every five minutes.

The AirportExpress is a fast and convenient means of transport from Dortmund Airport (DTM) to Dortmund Central Station, taking you there in little more than 20 minutes. From Dortmund Central Station, you can continue to the university campus by interurban railway (S-Bahn). A larger range of international flight connections is offered at Düsseldorf Airport (DUS), which is about 60 kilometres away and can be directly reached by S-Bahn from the university station.

The facilities of TU Dortmund University are spread over two campuses, the larger Campus North and the smaller Campus South. Additionally, some areas of the university are located in the adjacent "Technologiepark".

Site Map of TU Dortmund University (Second Page in English).